How People Process Different Types of Health Misinformation: Roles of Content Falsity and Evidence Type

Xinyan Zhao*, Stephanie J. Tsang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Emerging communication technologies have seen the proliferation of misleading claims, untruthful narratives, and conspiracies. To understand how people perceive and act on different types of misinformation, this study examines how health misinformation varying in falsity (fabrication versus misuse) and evidence type (statistical versus narrative) affects sharing and verification intentions. Using COVID-19 vaccines as cases, the results from an online experiment showed that misused misinformation was perceived as less false than fabricated misinformation and resulted in higher sharing intentions for the issue of vaccine efficacy. Misinformation with narrative evidence, as compared to that with statistical evidence, was perceived as less false and led to lower verification intentions. These findings can be explained by psychological processes such as counterarguing and narrative engagement. Our results can help practitioners develop dedicated misinformation literacy programs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalHealth Communication
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Mar 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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